Fibreglass composites course

Given the complexity of the camper body I intend to build, relying on my existing fibreglassing skills was arguably a recipe for potential disaster. Learning more would definitely be prudent.
You would think that finding courses in fibreglassing would be a simple task, but it wasn’t. After much searching I eventually stumbled across a course listed on the Composites Australia website that I thought might be useful. A “Basic Fibreglassing Manufacturing Skills” commercial offering was being run by the Hunter Institute of TAFE in Newcastle, NSW. Unfortunately, I could not find anything closer to Canberra, where I live. Trust me, I looked.
I contacted Ross Mitchell, the head teacher of the Composite Technology area, and had a lengthy discussion with him about what I was proposing to do. Ross was very helpful, explaining that this course could be project based, allowing me to gain the required skills necessary to carry out my particular project. I was definitely sold on that idea, so I signed up.
The Hunter Institute of TAFE offered “block weeks” which meant that I could do four consecutive days per month for the duration of the term (3 months). That was the most logistically easy way for me, especially given that I don’t live near Newcastle.
I started the first of three blocks in February and was happy to find out that I could also do two nights as well. This meant that I could do 42 hours per block. That said, an 8 hour day followed by two 13 hour days and another 8 hour day made for a tough week.
Being a firm believer in having a solid understanding of the basics, I did quite a few simple projects in hand laying fibreglass. In hindsight, I probably should not have done this as it covered much of what I already knew and did not leave a lot of time to cover learning many new skills.
The reality is that there is only so much you can learn in 120 hours. What I was able to do was to get a reasonable understanding of foam composites and vacuum bagging; skills I would use when building my camper body.
The final project that I undertook was to make a small side panel that contained a recess for an external storage door. I made a suitable mould then applied the gelcoat followed by the tie and first structural layers. When that was done I vacuum bagged a foam core to the glass and then put the second structural layers on. The end result was a miniature of what I was planning to do in the actual body of the camper. The associated album to this article shows the work-flow I used to create this panel.
During my second block I was told that I could extend my training by paying a small additional fee, giving me two additional monthly blocks (a total of 5). I was keen to do this so asked that it be arranged. After paying the additional fee I found out, late in the afternoon of my last day in block 3, that the available block days would be changing. Eventually I extracted the information that only 8 hours of training per block would be available, not the 42 hours per block I had previously. That was ridiculous, and I was really pissed off to find this out so late in the peace. Naturally, I did not go ahead with this. Being stuffed around at the end left me with a bad feeling about how the courses were run, but I did get some valuable information out of the time I spent at Newcastle TAFE, so not all was lost.